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DIY: Homemade Herbal Shampoo Bar

Three shampoo bars stacked up on a counter with herbs sprinkled around. Text overlay says, "DIY Shampoo Herbal Bar".

These homemade shampoo bars will naturally nourish and strengthen your hair! Most salon or store-bought shampoos are expensive and full of chemicals. Try this easy and affordable shampoo recipe that is perfect for travel and so much fun to make!

Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 Tbsp dry herbs (Rosemary, sage, nettles, arnica, etc.)
  • 7 oz water
  • 4.4 oz lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
  • 10 oz coconut oil
  • 9 oz olive oil
  • 6 oz avocado Oil
  • 3 oz Castor oil
  • 3 oz aloe vera oil
  • 1 oz jojoba oil
  • 3.5 oz coconut milk
  • .5-1 oz essential oil of your choice** (optional, I like to mix orange and peppermint, rosemary and lavender, or single oils like eucalyptus, cedarwood, and lemon)
  • Kitchen scale (optional, but very helpful
  • Protective eye wear (glasses or ligh shade sunglasses work great)
  • Rubber kitchen gloves
  • 4 qt crock-pot

Instructions

  1. Plan ahead by a couple of hours because you need to infuse your water with herbs. Heat your water just to boiling and pour into a glass jar. Add in your choice of herbs and screw on the lid. Let rest for at least two hours so the water will pull out the nutrients and scent from the herbs.
  2. Once the water is infused, re-measure it into a large heat proof bowl and add more water if necessary.
  3. Wearing gloves and eye protection, measure your lye into a separate dish. Take your water and lye outdoors to mix; they throw off some strong fumes! Add your lye into the water, stirring as you pour. Leave the lye mixture outside to cool slightly while you start on the next step.
  4. Place the dish that contains the lye into the sink and fill with soap and water and let it soak. You will want to make sure and wash it wearing your gloves.
  5. Measure your oils (minus the essential oil if using) into a crock pot and heat on low. Be sure to get accurate measurements to ensure proper neutralization through the saponification process. (This step may take a while depending on the temperature of your home. Soap making is much quicker in summer when the coconut oil is already soft, but you can easily step away for a minute if you need to while the oils melt.)
  6. Once the oils are melted, it’s time to add in the water/lye mixture. Wearing your gloves and eye protection again, stir the water/lye into the oils. Place your large bowl in the sink with the other lye dishes to wash when you are done.
  7. You need to mix the oils and water/lye mixture to “trace.” This is where the shampoo starts to saponify (making the soap into soap!). The best way to mix it to trace is to use an immersion blender, otherwise you will be stirring by hand for quite some time. However, you CAN use either method, and you should stir or blend until the shampoo looks like pudding.
  8. Stir in the coconut milk. This adds a really nice texture to the shampoo bars and nourishes the scalp.
  9. Cover the crock pot and let cook for about an hour for the shampoo to cook and reach neutrality. If you let it go a little longer, it’s okay. You can use a pH testing strip to make sure it’s at a pH between 6 and 8 if you’re concerned about the caustic ingredients. I typically don’t and haven’t had any issues. If you are using essential oils for scent and hair benefits, add them in after your shampoo has cooked to neutrality. How much you add will depend on your scent preference and the strength of the oil. Keep in mind that it will smell very strong at this point, but once the soap cools the scent will dissipate some. I tend to go on the heavier side so I get a good strong scent.
  10. Now it’s time to put your shampoo into a mold! I use a loaf mold. You can easily use a loaf pan, mini-loaf pan, rectangle box, or even a large shallow baking dish (you will cut it differently for this shape mold).Line your mold with parchment paper or plastic wrap and scoop in your shampoo. It will be hot, so be careful. For an extra touch of pretty, sprinkle dried herbs on top.
  11. Gently wrap the mold in a towel and place in a cardboard box or warm cabinet. If it cools too quickly it may split on the top. Let it set for 24 hours.
  12. Once it has set, gently remove from the mold. Cut your shampoo into your desired size bar, but approximately one inch thick is my goal.
  13. Using the hot-process method, the bar is at neutrality by this point so you can go ahead and use it now!For the rest of the bars, place in a cardboard box with some space in between each for some air flow. The bars will continue to harden as time goes on. Because this recipe uses a lot of coconut and olive oil it will turn out fairly soft. You should store unused bars in a cool place.

Notes

  • It is very important to have accurate measurements in soap making. Inaccuracy could cause your shampoo to be too caustic and burn the skin.
  • Always add the lye to the water and not the water to the lye. That could cause a very bad reaction!
  • After using this homemade shampoo bar, I always follow up with a 1:3 mix of apple cider vinegar to water as a conditioner. Spray it on right before jumping out of the shower (and don’t rinse) to soften hair and give it some shine. The vinegar scent dissipates quickly.
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